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Crowdsourcing & Design, not NEW, not HIP, not ETHICAL, not SMART.

Jim Infantino
Crowdsourcing amp Design not NEW not HIP not ETHICAL not SMART
Recently, I've been made aware of some designs coming from sites set up to crowdsource tasks that would otherwise be done by a professional.

Crowdsourcing is essentially outsourcing to distributed groups of people, tasks that would have been done by a single person or shop. The motivation in the past for these multiple talented people was to volunteer their time to be part of something cool, such as finding life on other planets, or writing a group novel, or improving some open source code ... however, recently some very enterprising entrepreneurs have discovered that by holding contests, you can get lots of people to do lots of work on Spec. (speculation of remuneration) and set the reward price incredibly low.

That's the idea behind sites like 99designs.com, and LogoTournament.com. Frankly, I hesitate to type in their urls. I certainly do not want to link to them. Check them out to educate yourselves, but have no illusions as to what you are looking at. These sites profit by convincing talented people to do work on spec, with no guarantee of pay.

Spec work is as old as the hills. Most creatives have experienced the proposition.

It doesn't pay anything, but if you do this work, it will help get your name out there.
or
I would like to see a few designs first to determine if we want to hire you for this job.


As a musician, I can't tell you how many gigs were sent my way with the promise of exposure as the only compensation. Often, the only exposure we experienced was the exposure to the elements on a low stage out in someone's back yard party. As a designer, the temptation is to build up your portfolio. Sometimes, the projects lead to other work, mostly they just cheapen what you do, as well as the design profession in general.

Logo design is hard, but when done well, it looks deceptively easy. A client may think they've bought a block of gold for a buck when they get an adapted version of the FedEx logo through one of these design pit fights, but, in the end, you get what you pay for. Any professional designer worth their salt provides so much more than someone trying to win the equivalent of a fancy dinner for 2 from a contest.

Professional logo designers know the larger picture. It's not just a thumbnail, it's your total business identity. It's not just your business cards, but your billboards, your walls, your trucks, your website design, your signage, your storefront, the way the world sees and reacts to your company. And it's not just aesthetics. When FedEx comes to sue you for infringement, the money you didn't spend on the professional designer will seem like pocket change.

And if that weren't enough to give you pause, there is also the ethical element. These sites offer a way for you to personally participate in exploitation of talented hard working people. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

As our friend and client, Boston electrician Andy Bruno says:
It only takes .5 milliwatts to stop a beating heart. Hire a professional.